Barna Research has published a new report on the importance of church attendance among Americans. You can read the report HERE.
According to Barna, approximately 50% of believing Americans do not feel that church attendance plays a significant role in their spiritual formation. In fact, church attendance didn’t even make the top ten list of practices believers find helpful in growing their faith. The top two reasons people attend church are to learn about God and feel closer to Him. But according to the report, ” Adults are aware of their very real spiritual needs, yet they are increasingly dissatisfied with the church’s attempt to meet those spiritual needs and are turning elsewhere.” The irony I find in this research is that the more the church strives for cultural relevance, the more distasteful it becomes in the eyes of culture.
So what do we do with this information? First, I believe we need to be unapologetically biblical in our approach to worship and discipleship. When I go to a restaurant I expect food. I’m never surprised or indignant that food is offered to me. Along the same line, I believe people come to church and expect to hear and understand what the Bible has to say. We should not be apologetic to offer the “Bread of Life” to all ages. Second, I think we need to do our best to live the Bible authentically. One of the reasons people in the study cite for their withdrawal from church is the hypocrisy of the members. The word hypocrite finds its etymology in Greek theater. It means, “one who wears a mask.” The Christian faith must be practiced with deep intentionality. When we fail to live within range of Christ’s expectations, we wear the mask of something we profess but don’t actually believe. And that hypocrisy is what makes churches irrelevant.
Next month we celebrate Holy Week and Easter. My hope for us is that we will not limit our celebration to one week a year, but will discover the joys of the power of the resurrection each and every day we live!